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Diagnosis-Related Groups in Europe: Towards Efficiency and Quality

Payment mechanisms are fundamental to all healthcare systems. Across Europe, there is a clear trend towards introducing Diagnosis Related Group (DRG) systems, and since the increasing mobility of European patients, the issue of methods for reimbursing medical services becomes crucial on a cross-country level. The European Commission identified that necessity as a research area to be funded under the 7th Framework Programme in the period 2009-2011.

From the long-term perspective, the harmonisation of the European DRG system should be introduced across EU Member States. Thus the aim of the EURO-DRG project was to explore and develop ways to establish a system that can compare costs and prices between and within Member States for in-patient services. This was deemed possible considering the structural differences among the Member States as well as the differences in medical practice and different preferences towards the implementation of new technologies.

The project also aimed at addressing the possible trade-off between costs and the quality of care to ensure that a European DRG system provides the intended incentives.

Using a representative sample of inpatient data a team of researchers from twelve European countries analysed the national DRG-based hospital payment systems by using qualitative and quantitative research methods. Beyond the project, the EuroDRG team still collaborated on further research and publications. The project concluded in 2011.